I am late to this party, but this nugget was one of the few things that stuck in my mind from the morning talk I attended at Google DC. They hosted Chris Anderson, Editor-in-Chief of Wired, and author of Free: The Past and Future of a Radical Price, to discuss his book. It’s out today, and you can get some editions of the book for free. There’s a fair amount of hullabaloo online about the book that I’m just not that excited about. I chalk this up to following issues related to digital pricing, and how best to extract money from low-cost, widely available information since I worked on satellite imagery issues years ago. That and reading what amounted to Anderson’s book proposal in the March 2008 issue of Wired.
For me the most interesting part of the event was the question and answer session, where, among other things, Anderson noted that he was in the drone business. Having started by programming Lego Mindstorm robotics to control RC aircraft, the efforts have expanded pretty significantly, including a DIY group and autopilots now available for sale. From what Anderson said this morning, these efforts do not run afoul of the law (though the fully assembled drones could not be freely exported as they would be considered weapons). They still made me pause, for as he wrote:
“As exciting as that it is, it’s also sobering to know that a technology that was just a few years ago the sole domain of the military is now within the reach of amateurs, so we spend a lot of time educating our community on FAA regulations and safe and responsible flying (always under 400 feet, stay within line of sight, pilot always able to regain control).”